“Mailbag” offers insight into the feedback I receive from readers – good, bad, or intermediate – and my thoughts on their feedback.
It’s uncomfortable to talk about the nation’s ugly housing past and even more unnerving to think that many inequities still exist in the homebuying system today.
Despite modest improvements, the housing market is not entirely fair, preventing families of color from taking advantage of a wealth-building system that has passed money to white families for generations.
That said, I wasn’t surprised to see rave reviews in my inbox after writing about a Zillow report that showed mortgage approvals were harder for black applicants than whites. Census statistics also told us that blacks have much lower homeownership rates. In California, black residents were 43% less likely than whites to live in a home they own and were rejected for a mortgage at a 48% faster rate.
Here’s what readers must have thought of my column and reports…
Reader: “Property has nothing to do with race. It has everything to do with the choices people make in their lives. Are they taking advantage of America’s vast opportunities, getting an education and working hard? Or are they making poor life choices in terms of investing and saving? »
Me: The National Association of Home Builders wrote in 2021: “The path to home ownership has not been the same for everyone. Housing segregation and racial structural inequality in housing is a fact, perpetuated by public and private actors. There is overwhelming evidence that much of the housing equity divide has been effected through various federal, state and local government policies. While important civil rights laws, such as the Fair Housing Act, have certainly helped address historical and current discrimination, local exclusionary land use regulations, in particular, continue creating inequalities in housing.
Reader: “No agent, loan processor, loan committee – which are practically computer driven – care less about the color of the buyer.”
Me: An investigation by The Markup 2019 lending data revealed “Holding 17 different factors stable in a complex statistical analysis of over 2 million conventional mortgage applications for the purchase of a home, we found that lenders were 40% more likely to reject Latino applicants for loans, 50% more likely to reject Asian/Pacific Islander applicants, and 70% more likely to reject Native American applicants than similar white applicants Lenders were 80% more likely to reject black applicants than similar white applicants.
Reader: “Perhaps your trusty spreadsheet should include average black credit scores, average black family income, and stop with the inequality bull.”
Me: The Urban Institute written in 2021: “Majority black communities and majority Native American communities have the lowest median credit scores and the highest debt in terms of collection rate, subprime credit score rate and use of low cost payday loans high and other alternative financial services loans. These racial disparities reflect historical inequalities that have reduced wealth and limited economic choices for communities of color.”
Reader: “Does anyone realize the harm that is done by doing everything about inequality between whites and blacks?”
Me: Shortly after Charlie Oppler was installed in 2019 as president of the National Association of Realtors, he posted a formal apology for the role of the group preventing equal property ownership opportunities for black people, initially fighting the Fair Housing Act in 1968, and once allowing membership based on race or gender.
“What the estate agents did was an outrage to our morals and our ideals. It was a betrayal of our commitment to fairness and equality. We can’t go back to fix past mistakes, but we can look this problem straight in the eye. And, on behalf of our industry, we can say that what Realtors® did was shameful, and we’re sorry.
Reader: “My parents’ 70-year-old former two-bedroom house in the western suburbs of Chicago (now black-owned) is worth $137,000. My 48-year-old, three-bedroom house in southern Orange County is worth $958,000. Whereas my black neighbor’s four-bedroom house is more likely worth $1.1 million.
Me: The National Coalition for Community Reinvestment written last year“Redlining, the intentional decision not to provide mortgages to minority communities, especially African-American communities, has led to the formation and improvement of segregated neighborhoods. Many neighborhoods demarcated in the 1920s-1940s are still isolated today.
Reader: “Forget critical race theory. How about teaching kids to balance a checkbook and a budget? Boring. Better to convince kids they’re either victims or oppressors.
Me: Amen to a more practical education. But we can teach both “home economics” and an accurate snapshot of our nation’s history, good and bad.
Jonathan Lansner is a business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be contacted at [email protected]